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  • Inspiring Women: Nancy Hastings Sehested, by Leigh Siler

    Alliance of Baptists' congregational partners have been ordaining and calling whomever they perceived as gifted for ministry, male or female, for three decades. Women pastor nearly 30 percent of Alliance churches. This year's annual gathering in St. Louis will celebrate the successes, lament the continued inequity, and open up our imaginations for more of God's diversity in ministry leadership.

    by Leigh Siler

    As a teenager, I am grateful for the many role models I have in my life. One of them is Nancy Hastings Sehested, my pastor and friend. I have been listening to her exciting sermons and children’s stories since I was a little kid and can still remember countless tales of her adventures and struggles.

    Nancy is a bright, kind woman filled with courage and wisdom. Her dramatic interpretation of the scripture and welcoming hospitality are part of what makes her the outstanding pastor and chaplain that she is.

    I have the pleasure of seeing Nancy weekly. There are many impressive achievements that are worth knowing and honoring in her life; being among the first female Baptist senior pastors, serving as a female chaplain at a high security prison for men...I could go on.

    However, what inspires me most is her ability to connect one-on-one. Through many ways she encourages and supports people, at church, behind bars and in the community.

    These “small” acts—the thoughtful note, the phone call, the loving smile—are what make her Nancy. She embodies her work as a minister and child of God and sparks a light in people.

    I love it when Nancy preaches.

    She leaves me on Sunday nights with a message that hovers in the back of my mind throughout the week. I am so thankful for the many lessons and laughs that we have shared. Nancy inspires me in many ways to be the most courageous, loving, and authentic person I can be. 

    Leigh Siler is a 14 year old who lives in Asheville, N.C. She is a member of Circle of Mercy. Some of her favorite things are playing the violin, singing, and hiking.


    top: Nancy Hastings Sehested

    bottom: Leigh Siler